Ukraine Fashion Week: Poustovit

Recently, Ukraine has made headlines in the majority of world’s most renowned publications – and, unfortunately, for very unpleasant reasons. Despite the country being on the brink of war with Russia over Crimea, the fashion industry remained a good indicator of the optimistic spirit in Kiev, as top designers, press and buyers got together for Ukrainian Fashion Week.

This season, the event was deprived of the usual festive feeling, as the political crisis couldn’t leave anyone indifferent. The air was practically filled with patriotic anxiety and excitement. Several shows were restricted to selected press and top buyers, turning the whole fashion week into quite an intimate convention.

The possibility of war with Russia was reflected not only in the catwalk collections, but in the static presentations and projects exhibited at UFW. A wall in Mystetskiy Arsenal (the main UFW site) was dedicated to sweatshirts and t-shirts by young up-and-coming designers. They were showcased together with a Maidan art project that featured painted helmets of the protesters.


Current political crisis was, of course, a prominent topic on the Ukrainian catwalk. At POUSTOVIT – the most anticipated show of UFW – colours of the Ukrainian flag interpreted in sweet pastels, were the main palette of both the collection and make-up. The innocence and sweetness of the dresses contrasted with gilets and heavy belts that appeared at one point in the collection and looked a lot like body armour.

Models at ZALEVSKIY were ‘shot dead’ right there on the catwalk – another reference to the revolution in Kiev. The collection featured multiple interpretations of ‘prisoner’ stripes, vigorous reds, and t-shirts with the words “Get the hell away from the beach” printed in Russian.

The DOMANOFF girls had bloodstains painted on their temples, also mirroring the recent sorrowful events in Kiev. This designer offered discrete wartime fashion with a hint of femininity: A-line skirts, chiffon, and soft shoulder lines. There were some other patriotic motifs in the direction: a remix of the Ukrainian anthem accompanied the Bobkova show, for example, and at the final entrance of ELENAREVA, the backdrop read “Country united”.


Several designers looked beyond current events and offered soothing post-crisis looks. Victoria Gres showed a collection that ‘portrayed what women would look like after the war’, as was summarized by the head of Ukrainian Fashion Week Iryna Danilevska. Her dresses sent amazing 1950’s vibes, and the use of lace detailing added romance.

The VOROZHBYT & ZEMSKOVA collection was also based on the idea that ‘everything should be OK by autumn’ as the designers presented a warm and calming take on 1970s with their flared silhouettes and pleated skirts. Rich materials, such as velvets, leather and furs, created an interesting play of the palette, which included all colours of tea.

Another clean and romantic collection was shown by PODOLYAN: it featured cool ash greys, light chiffons, bow detailing, and timeless basic shapes.


Special attention should be paid to designers who are considered masters of cut and structure. BEVZA (stocked in London’s Rtister concept store) explored her recognizable approach to geometric intricacy in dresses and clean-cut coats and detailing. ELENAREVA also played with cut using folding, draping, and asymmetry. At Litkovskaya – one of the fastest growing labels in Ukraine – the recognizable textural contrast was completed with powerful rounded shoulders, generous fringing, and quilted leather.


Some designers insisted that fashion’s beautifying and expressive function need not be altered by politics. Valery Kovalska was inspired by the dynamic NYC lifestyle and showed a successful sporty take on gothic prints, hunting coats, and classic dress silhouettes. Elena Burenina played with surrealism of the body through maximised sleeve lengths and restriction of the arms and offered amazing backpacks that looked like detachable clutches.

Rich colours, geometric prints, and turbans at Elena Burba created a fusion of an eastern fairytale and the sixties. ANDRE TAN suggested another fantasy: his use of corsets, playful use of silhouettes, round glasses, and exuberant full skirts and implied 19th century motifs. Literature was the main source of inspiration – dresses were printed with lines from Pushkin and the models carried books titled ‘Fairytales’.

The most eyebrow-raising show was that of a young avant-garde designer JEAN GRITSFELDT. Mainly this was due to the location: it was held in a supermarket in central Kiev. Instantantly raising the question of whether the designer had Chanel in mind when planning the show, it still became a success: his jumper dresses and sweatshirts with prints of ‘vampire’ celebrities looked rather fresh. After all, fun is the ultimate approach to fashion, whatever the circumstances.


Words by Hanna Gavrylova @hannagavrylova Images by Ukrainian Fashion Week

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